Careers in Real Estate

Real estate offers rewarding careers in many related fields. Some of Real estate jobs provide flexibility, freedom and unlimited earning potential but no guaranteed income. Other are more or less office jobs related to real estate. This article may help with your Real Estate career choice: Real Estate Careers


What if you don’t have a big budget?
How you are going to get leads and customers?
Read about what kind of groundwork you should do before diving into the world of Real Estate…

“Real Estate – Occupation of Kings!” poster

Being a real estate agent is often the very first thing that comes to mind when people start thinking about working in real estate. Learn about basic steps, requirements, positive and negative aspects of this career and see if this is what you would like to do after all: How To Become A Real Estate Agent

If you are still very excited about becoming a real estate agent after reading the article, try to KEEP CALM and BUY THIS POSTER… and continue reading about careers in real estate!

Keep Calm and Call an Agent poster

Starting a Career in Real Estate on a Shoestring Budget

Starting a career in real estate on a low budget is not an easy task as with almost any other business. There are no secret magic tricks can bring a flood of listings and home buyers overnight. Your social connections, friends and relatives may give you positive signals before you start but when the time comes they will not be able to provide a stable stream of leads at best or any leads as it happens in most of cases. All of this means that even before starting a real estate career future agents should do some ground work for their future business activities and save as much as they can to have a decent marketing budget and enough money to cover at least 6-9 months of living expenses.

A less risky way of testing the waters and at the same time learning how to be successful in real estate is to find an assistant job for one of the top real estate producers. As a rule, assistants get paid a salary, which reliefs some financial stress. At the same time the work load can be heavy in addition to other preparations you will be doing for starting your own career in real estate after getting a license and learning enough from the best real estate professionals.

What kind of preparations you should be doing considering a very limited budget?

Select your geographical real estate farm (area or areas where you would like to conduct your real estate prospecting).
Get familiar with most common problems that home owners might have in that area then search for solutions to these problems.
Create educational materials, help guides and a directory of the best reliable professionals that may help to solve these problems. This usually takes time and you may have to do a lot of research to come up with really useful information relevant to your particular farm. Many real estate agents have a practice of establishing partnerships with local businesses which cuts the cost of advertising and helps with referrals to both sides.

Before establishing partnerships with these businesses make sure that they have a good reputation among locals and provide quality service to their customers.
Get your own website with a domain name related to your area (not to your name) and start putting information about all aspects of living in that area online.
Learn how to write SEO-optimized articles. Write as much content as you can for all demographic groups. Your goal is to become the most useful and complete source of information for existing and future residents. To achieve this goal you will need to get some feedback from the residents. Think of creating a neighborhood problems paper survey and hand-deliver it on weekends at least to a portion of your future farm. It should be very short – just a few questions about the most common problems they experienced with their property and their rating of contractors who were fixing them.

It all may seem like an outdated door–knocking but without personal interaction you may never figure out what kind of common problems residents are struggling within this particular area.
It could be anything: rotten decks or fences, leaking faucets or toilets, pest infestation, or poor internet connection, etc.
If some of the problems are common you will need to find effective solutions for them because very soon it will be your farm. By providing these solutions to people you’ll be earning their trust and they will remember you.

Starting a real estate career requires a lot of leg work in addition to mastering all digital methods of marketing.

This leg work is a bit different from the old style real estate farming and door knocking. Nowadays realtors don’t need to walk their neighborhood as sales people. Many top producers don’t even talk about real estate at all with people they meet during these walks. Instead, they focus on residents and their problems offering advice and help.

When they are asked by potential clients: “What makes you uniquely qualified to handle my specific problems?” they answer: “Many of the solutions to your problems are already listed on my website which means that I know very well how to solve them”.

This is the most important fundamental secret most new real estate agents miss: your marketing should not be about you, your achievements or all the things you are going do for you client if you will get the listing. It is all about offering solutions to clients’ problems in every piece of marketing material you send, email or personally deliver to them.
Your website must become an educational center and each real estate farming postcard or email newsletter with real estate market updates must contain links or QR codes pointing to these pages.

All of it looks like a lot of work, research and learning and it is, indeed.
Too often new agents completely overlook this preparation stage and go in the battle armed only with business cards, newspaper ad and a few poorly memorized Mike Ferry’s scripts.

This is why close to 80% of them never see any success even after spending tremendous amount of time and money.
Trying to get listings from FSBOs is another popular low budget real estate trick that a few agents have mastered. Starting a real estate career concentrating on FSBOs can be very discouraging for new agents who lack experience and skills to convince potential clients, although it certainly doesn’t hurt to try.

Real estate prospecting postcards could be exactly what new agents need for starting a real estate career with a limited budget. Printing cost for high quality full color postcards is pretty low and the main expense would be mailing the cards although with the latest EDDM option it can be reduced to only 16 cents per card regardless the size.
There are many real estate farming postcards ideas that can be used for multiple purposes like driving traffic to the main website, collecting email addresses, distributing coupons from agent’s partners, informing residents about community events sponsored by Realtor and participating partners and many more. The trick is distribute not only the traditional Just Sold postcards that the vast majority of real estate agents do but use your cards as a bait for residents who are interested in topics related to home ownership but have no intention for listing their properties for sale at this moment. But they will in the future and they have to know you personally and trust you, so at the right moment your name comes.

These topics may include remodeling, different types of structural repairs, decorating, fixing appliances, landscaping, buying a vacation property or dealing with pests, finding a local babysitter, house-sitter or pet-sitter, and others that may depend on specifics of each community.

When people sell their house, hiring a moving company can be a huge problem for many people who do not like reading a fine print. Create a series of very detailed guides and articles about everything related to the process of selling the house including preparation and moving out and advertise those through your real estate prospecting postcards. This will help you in gaining trust and a reputation of an expert among the residents. Helping people always pays off.

Starting a career in real estate without a big budget requires a lot of planning and tedious work. At the same time having a large budget often leads to a failure because of lack of planning. Shelling out thousands of dollars on magazine ads and signing up real estate internet marketing companies is a very poor business model. You have to start building your real estate business yourself and then outsource some time-consuming tasks.

To summarize, when starting a real estate career you need:

  1. Find solutions to the most common problems in your future real estate farm
  2. Create educational materials and articles based on these solutions
  3. Build an automated website with email-collecting capabilities
  4. Create an amazingly detailed and SEO-optimized content for the website about all the aspects of local communities
  5. Find local business partners
  6. Print farming postcards with QR links to different sections of your website
  7. Start collecting emails via website and your real estate farming postcards

How To Become A Real Estate Agent

If you are considering your options on how to become a real estate agent, you are probably not alone. When real estate market starts to heat up, a lot of people may consider starting a real estate career: real estate commissions are financially attractive, the schedule is flexible and initial investment to get into the business is relatively low compared to other professions.

becoming a realtor
I want to be a Realtor

As one old agent told me, “when real estate market is at its peak, the only thing it takes to becoming a successful real estate agent is to breathe.” There is no lack of buyers and sellers which results in an abundance of business in the up market. It takes patience, established clientele base and skills to survive the down market. While weighing in your options, carefully consider the drawbacks of real estate profession: as an old saying goes, one-third of real estate agents are in business, another third is getting into business, and the final third is getting out of the business. Of that third that is in business, only small percentage does practically 90% of all the volume while others have an occasional sale or two.

Before starting a real estate career, you might consider finding a mentor first – a successful real estate broker or agent who may be in need of a part-time assistant. This is a safe way to see real estate profession from inside the trenches, learn from a seasoned professional and decide if you really want to invest time and money in becoming a real estate agent. It may take a lot more than you think if you really want to learn how to become a successful real estate agent.

The basic steps to becoming a real estate agent are relatively few and straight forward:

  • You must be 18 years old and citizen or legal resident of USA;
  • You must fulfill the required number of educational hours which differs from state to state (for example, CA requires 135 hours while TX – 180 hours of required education);
  • You must find a sponsoring brokerage (unless you chose to have inactive license)
  • You must pass the licensing exam and background check, including fingerprinting.
  • You must have enough savings to help you with the marketing and to sustain you through the first few months until your business starts growing.

Take Real Estate Courses

Get educated!
Get educated!

Getting required educational courses is relatively easy whether you decide to enroll into online real estate courses or your local community college that offers real estate pre-licensing courses. Prepping yourself for the state exam to become a licensed real estate agent takes some study. There are plenty of options to chose from, with some real estate schools offering a complete package including required courses, review materials and exam preparation test with guarantees that you will pass the real estate exam (student that doesn’t pass their real estate salesperson’s licensing exam with the state on their first attempt will receive a full refund PLUS an additional 10% for a total of 110% of the purchase price returned). Note that guarantees as to the passing of real estate exam are not legal in some states so they are not offered in states, such as Florida and Tennessee, for example.

Another advantage of online real estate courses is that you may take them at your own pace (at night when kids are asleep or when you have spare time on the weekends). Many people are considering becoming a real estate agent as a change of career and it is an excellent option to slowly delve into while you continue working your old job. The study materials are not overwhelmingly complicated though real estate financing and property taxes topics can be confusing at first. Give yourself plenty of time to study and practice, practice, practice before licensing exam – this will ensure that you have the greatest chance at passing your test on the first try and that you can finally be on your way to becoming real estate agent.

Choosing a Brokerage when Starting a Real Estate Career

While searching for a sponsoring brokerage, you may find out that some do offer their own educational courses and may even pay for your licensing exam. It may be a great option if you are sure you want to work for that brokerage after you get your real estate license. An additional advantage of in-house training is that as a new agent, you will get hands-on mentoring after your licensing process is complete. Some brokerage firms require mandatory training for new agents for 1-2 years which will include marketing, MLS classes, paperwork review, farming groups, etc. Others will want you to take classes and exam prep on your own but will offer mentoring with veteran agents after you get a license. Go and interview with a few real estate brokers and see which makes you feel more comfortable – you will have a close relationship with your broker for a long time and you must feel comfortable enough to ask for help and advice when you need it. Check out the atmosphere in the office – as a new agent you need lots of help in a stimulating environment, so make sure your firm is not too cut-throat competitive (you won’t survive) or overwhelmingly cozy and filled with real estate agents that are there mostly for socializing and coffee (you will fell asleep at the wheel and will never prosper).

Besides finding the brokerage that is within your comfort zone, decide if you want to work for a big international brand name company, a small real estate brokerage local to your market or one of online discount brokers that will only charge you flat fee per transaction instead of percentage of your commission. The recent studies found that the brand name has very little to do with consumer preferences – brand is trumped by personal referrals and trust that is associated with a certain sales person as an expert in a local market. So it all depends on the business model you would choose for yourself. Check what resources each brokerage is offering to its sales agents – as a new real estate agent just starting in business every free perk can be a huge help. If you already have an established network you are bringing with you from a former career you may not need a lot of hand-holding and may feel more comfortable navigating on your own while paying less of your commission to the brokerage. There are many choices of business models out there so do your homework before making your decision. You can always change brokerages down the road if you feel it would be a better fit for your business.

Even if you will find a great firm keep in mind that the best way to learn and be paid at the same time is finding one of the most successful real estate agents in this brokerage who would be willing to take you as an assistant.

Get Your Real Estate License

You have finished your educational courses and practice test, have an idea where you want to work – now it is time to take your exam. Don’t delay actual exam date – do it while the material is fresh in your memory and keep practicing until your actual exam date. Exams are usually offered in major big cities, so you may have to travel to take your exam. You can find all necessary applications and exam dates on your state’s official government website, under department or bureau of real estate. The exam and licensing fees vary from state to state but you can expect to pay a few hundred dollars total. For example, for California, exam fee is $60, 1st re-scheduling is $15, all consequent re-schedules are $30, re-examination fee (if you don’t pass on your first try) is $60; license fee is $245 which includes fingerprinting. You also have to provide a proof of citizenship or legal residency in the United States and have a clean criminal record (no felony or misdemeanor convictions).

After successfully passing your exam, you have to wait for your license to be issued and mailed to you, before you can practice any real estate sales activities. You can take that time to familiarize yourself with the current inventory of homes for sale and required paperwork for an active listing or sale, attend sales meetings, broker’s preview and open houses, as well as work on your budget and marketing plan. After you finally receive your license, you would also need to join a local real estate board (to be able to participate in the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS) as well as National Association of Realtors (NAR) – they both require membership dues that will total around a thousand dollars. Another necessary expense item is an electronic key that will allow you unlock the box that stores keys for the houses offered for sale. Without it you won’t be able to preview properties or show it to potential buyers.

You may already know that simply getting your real estate license doesn’t mean “windfall profits” even during the most favorable times for real estate.

The questions is not “How to Become a Real Estate Agent” but “How to Become a SUCCESSFUL Real Estate Agent!

This is why you will need to spend a lot of time learning from the best in real estate field and keep taking online real estate courses or find free real estate training if those courses are too expensive.

Starting a Career in Real Estate Requires a Budget and a Marketing Plan

Keep in mind that there is no such thing as real estate agent salary, unless you are working as an assistant to some big-shot real estate agent who is paying you out of his pocket for your duties (which may be a good idea for a new licensee). If you are on your own, be prepared to have a realistic budget for some necessary start-up costs while depending completely on your savings or support of a spouse while you get your business going.

You would have to get business cards, your own custom business website, signs (when you are lucky to get a listing), some printed materials such as farming postcards, marketing newsletters or fliers to let your personal contacts know that you are now in business of real estate. Don’t ignore some free ways of publicity such as Facebook (where you can create your business page and post interesting facts and promote your brokerage listings until you get your own), Youtube , Google+ ,Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. These and many other real estate marketing ideas will be discussed later in more details. Designing and following your own business plan based on these ideas and methods is the key to becoming a successful real estate agent.

Follow Your Real Estate Marketing Plan

You would also have to prepare yourself mentally for many pitfalls and difficulties that come with real estate profession. It may take months before you see the first paycheck – even if you are lucky to get your first sale relatively soon (after six months of intense marketing). Don’t forget to factor in the time it takes to have your first escrow to close – 30-45 days or more. And sometimes houses fall out of escrow if the seller and the buyer can’t compromise on repairs or the buyer doesn’t qualify for the loan. All that time you have to eat and pay for your own mortgage. Most new real estate agents are starving and sales persons who become successful in the business don’t usually depend on quick money and can weather several months without commissions.

Learn how to be successful in real estate by working for top agents or brokers.

Real estate is people’s business, so if you don’t enjoy heavy interactions with people you won’t be successful. Even if you are a “people person” you have to practice saintly patience to deal with sellers and buyers every day. Even the most gentle and kind people can lose their cool when their home equity is at stake – the most valuable and significant investment of their lifetime. Real estate transactions also have a tendency not to go as expected and these thirty or forty days can become most stressful time for buyers and sellers, not to mention agents involved in the transaction.

What other qualities are important to be successful as a real estate agent?

Home inspectors may find major problems with the property that neither party is ready to deal with; loan approval process can present numerous challenges. So your task is to be on the top of your customer service game and demonstrate extraordinary organization skills to keep the process going while keeping buyers, sellers, and other agent informed and happy. Real estate transactions have strict legal deadlines that have to be met in performing inspections and filing requests and responses. If you miss one of these deadlines it may mean the failed transaction and lost money. Be prepared to become the best negotiator, peace-maker, confidant, and hard-truth deliverer to keep all contractors and parties to the transaction happy.

The flexible schedule you were dreaming about may not be what you expected, at all. Sometimes it may mean meeting with clients at night, when it is most convenient to them, or show a house when you’d rather be at your child’s recital. It may mean long hours, busy weekends and no vacations for a while, until you team up with someone to look after your business when you are gone. Flexible schedule, as you will learn, means that you have to be flexible to accommodate your clients’ needs. You should be prepared as soon as you get that phone call to drop what you are doing to show a house or save a transaction that is falling apart. Otherwise you lose that client and a potential paycheck to another agent who is willing to serve them right then and there.

Becoming a real estate agent may put a lot of stress on you and your closed ones. Ensure your family’s support and understanding that you may miss on some Friday date nights and Saturday morning games while you are building your business. Seasoned real estate agents make their own rules and usually pick one day a week when they are not accessible (either Sunday or Monday) so they can recharge their batteries and get their sanity back.

Prepare for More Real Estate Courses in Order to Stay Licensed

After you get your real estate license, it will take money to stay licensed as you are obligated to fulfill certain continued educational requirements every few years and pay renewal fees. These courses are available from numerous accredited real estate schools, both online and through correspondence materials that you can order. These real estate continuing education classes will take time and money to complete, though you can pick a few hours of education through the educational seminars offered by title or Escrow Company, which will list the amount of credits you get if you’d attend. Don’t delay until the last minute to complete your courses as it might be quite stressful to finish them by the deadline. You must also pay your board and NAR fees yearly (close to a thousand dollars) that you have to budget for to keep you going.
Becoming a real estate agent nowadays means that you not only will have to constantly educate yourself, be very friendly with the latest technology, keep testing new marketing methods but also be computer-smart and learn how to automate or outsource time-consuming tasks to be able to enjoy your new profession.

It does take a lot in order to become a successful real estate agent!